741.022/1–251: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Secretary of State


3701. According Olver,1 UK’s latest message from Karachi, sent yesterday, reports Liaquat2 still refuses depart from [for] Commonwealth conference3 without assurance Kashmir will be discussed by Prime Ministers. UK’s proposal to Liaquat referred to in Embtel 3558, December 204 was that, while there could be no question placing Kashmir on formal agenda, UK would do what it could persuade other Prime Ministers agree consider Kashmir as a group in informal discussions and hoped on basis UK promise its efforts to this end Liaquat would agree attend conference. Purport Karachi’s latest message, however, is that Liaquat will not come London until he knows other Prime Ministers have agreed have Kashmir discussed.

Outcome this contretemps must therefore await UK’s approach to other Prime Ministers, last of whom should be here by tomorrow latest. According Olver, Menzies5 already sold on Kashmir discussions and Olver thinks Holland6 will follow his lead. Olver also confident Canada will agree to discussions if others do, but indicated Canadian answer still unknown. Big question mark is Nehru,7 now en route London.

Olver said Nehru’s response original UK proposal for India–Pakistan talks with UK in mediatory role was favorable (Embtel 3558, December 20) and UK has had message similar Delhi’s 1593, January 18 reporting Nehru willing talk privately London re Kashmir. Olver says this does not, however, appear answer question whether Nehru will be willing have issue placed before Prime Ministers as informal round-table. Press here has made big play over Liaquat’s alleged insistence that Kashmir be placed on agenda, but, according Olver, this immaterial since UK sure Liaquat will be satisfied with round-table consideration outside agenda. Olver also says it is probably unimportant whether Ceylon and South Africa take part in discussions.

Olver thinks that Liaquat genuinely believes if he attended Commonwealth [Page 1701]conference and came back empty-handed on Kashmir question his government would probably fall. UK and CRO disturbed by mounting opposition to Liaquat in Pakistan. Olver personally thinks that if Liaquat does not attend Commonwealth conference, then early action on Kashmir in UN will become necessary.

Virtually all articles in wide press coverage here on Commonwealth conference play up India-Pakistan rift over Kashmir and shadow it threatens throw over Commonwealth meeting.

Comment: Foreign Office has recently revealed growing UK anxiety over Pakistan domestic situation which appears contrast appreciably with previous assessment reported Embtel 3558.9 We think increased UK concern probably results largely from somber tone most recent reports from UK HC Karachi10 describing worsening situation and from obvious implications in Liaquat’s adamant stand on consideration Kashmir by Commonwealth conference. At time Foreign Office commented on Department’s proposals for SC action,11 it would probably not have denied seriousness Pakistan situation, but hopes which UK had then just invested in major decision mediate India-Pakistan talks time Commonwealth meeting led it to fear lest SC or any other action undermine this effort and by same token Foreign Office probably read most favorable meanings into developments then occurring in Pakistan. Latest events have unquestionably had sobering effect.

Repeated information Karachi 41, Delhi 98.

  1. S. J. L. Olver, Officer for India, Pakistan, French and Portuguese India, and Ceylon in the South-East Asia Department of the British Foreign Office.
  2. Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan.
  3. The Conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers was to open in London on January 4 under the chairmanship of the British Prime Minister, Clement R. Attlee.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, p. 1442.
  5. Robert Gordon Menzies, Australian Prime Minister.
  6. Sidney George Holland, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  7. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.
  8. Not printed.
  9. On this point telegram 3558, from London, reported that the British Foreign Office and Office of Commonwealth Relations did not consider public unrest in Pakistan to be in any sense at the point of crisis. They discounted talk of holy war, and speculated that the leaders of Pakistan might be stimulating agitation in order to gain a better bargaining position in negotiations.
  10. Sir Laurence Grafftey-Smith, United Kingdom High Commissioner in Pakistan.
  11. See the editorial note, supra.